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Steve McClaren in position of strength at Nottingham Forest following departure of David Pleat On safer ground: Forest manager Steve McClaren’s position appears stronger following the departure of David Pleat Photo: ACTION IMAGES

McClaren’s troubled reign, with Forest just three points off the bottom of the Championship, has received a timely boost after football consultant Pleat was axed from his £120,000 a-year job by close friend and club owner Nigel Doughty.

Former manager Billy Davies campaigned at length to have Pleat removed from the club’s transfer acquisitions panel, feeling his presence compromised his control over player signings, but just 24 hours after McClaren’s humiliation at Turf Moor, Doughty has bowed to the pressure.

Former Tottenham manager Pleat, 66, was employed by Doughty in August 2006 to work alongside the board on transfers and recommending players but his presence has been a constant source of frustration for Forest’s managers.

Earlier in the season it is understood that Pleat invited Fulham youngster Keanu Marsh-Brown to go on trial with a view to a loan deal without consulting McClaren.

Marsh-Brown arrived to train but was promptly sent packing by a stunned McClaren, who made his feelings clear to Doughty.

Forest’s lack of signings in the transfer window increased the frustration and McClaren even considered leaving after just three months, but he threatened Doughty during showdown talks that either he or Pleat would have to go – and Pleat’s departure has now been confirmed.

McClaren has won only two out of nine league games but there are no plans to sack him at this stage of the season.

Doughty has also sanctioned more loan signings before Sunday’s clash with Birmingham.

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